Franklin Square: A Story
When I begun the research for this project in the beginning of the semester I did not realize that the metaphorical rabbit hole of articles, photos, and accounts that I would learn about and experience would be so deep. I found myself not only finding my research through articles online, but also experiencing first hand a part of the history of Franklin Square. I will do my part in discussing some of the reasons to what makes Franklin Square’s past noteworthy.
For those unaware, Franklin Square is a one block by one block park in downtown Washington, D.C. At first glance there is nothing special about this piece of land. It is a fairly ordinary park in a bustling city (Franklin Square Wikipedia). At the start of my research, and even after my first visit to the square, I thought that I would be in trouble trying to find something of interest to discuss. However, the beauty of Franklin Square was not in its appearance, but in its rich history. From, Alexander Graham Bell’s first telegraph message to the protests that echoed the streets of the district on the day of Trump’s Inauguration, Franklin Square is calling out to have its story told. I will try and give the square some justice and discuss four events that I found particularly compelling.
Alexander Graham Bell delivered his first wireless message in 1880 from the Franklin School to a building a block away. The technological importance of this event is one of if not the most important in telecommunications. It opened a whole new way to communicate messages long distances and allowed for information to be shared quicker. Which in turn, led to a rapid increase in technological improvements in other fields. He himself called it one of the most important inventions of his time. (Alexander Graham Bell Wikipedia). Bell’s invention helped bridge an isolated world, that today no longer exists. The global world that we live in now is taken as a given and Alexander Graham Bell’s message was one of the first inventions that brought us to this point.
A year later in 1881, Clara Barton hosted the first meeting of the American Red Cross in Franklin Square. The importance of this meeting might not have been known that day, but now over 136 years later, we can look back and realize the historical significance and Clara Barton and the original members of the American Red Cross. This organization has helped millions across the country in needs varying from disaster relief for those that have had their lives completely uprooted, to services for military members and their families (American Red Cross). The good that has come from Clara Barton and the thousands of others that have donated their time for the aid of others will never be understated.
In more recent history, Occupy D.C. was a branch of the Occupy Movement, that was gripping the nation in the fall of 2011. The Occupy Movement fought for their belief that the money in America was static and that the richest 1% of the population were the only people that could increase their wealth. These activists brought attention to this issue by occupying parks and other public areas across the United States for long stretches of time. Franklin Square was one of the primary places in D.C. where these activists made their stand and points heard. (Occupy D.C. Wikipedia). The ending outcome of the Occupy Movement is still not known because there is still demand for a fairer system in place that allows for more socioeconomic mobility in the United States. Until that day comes about, there will always be those that call themselves apart of the occupy movement fighting for change.
Lastly, the inauguration protests were protests that happened on the day of President Trump’s Inauguration on January 20, 2017. That day protesters marched on the streets of Washington in solidarity to express their disagreements with the outcome of the election. After hours of marching they managed to make their way to Franklin Square where they stayed until they dispersed late into the night (Krieg). I was privileged enough to be able to attend these protests and experience first-hand a small part of that day. Talking to some of the protestors and listening to what they had to say about why they were there, what they had encountered that day, and what they hoped to accomplish was truly an eye opening experience. They all had their own reasons for being in Franklin Square, tales of events they witnessed that day, as well as hopes for their vision of a better future (Shanosky). Like the Occupy D.C. movement, many will continue to challenge the status quo and fight for what they believe is right. Also, the historical relevance will not be known until years after the end of Trump’s presidency where historians and politicians alike can argue the effectiveness of protesters like these to make a difference and affect policy.
I chose these four events not only because of their significance to Franklin Square but also for their significance in their specific part of time. By this I mean, the landscape of Franklin Square and D.C. as a whole has changed in what we consider historic moments. The first two events Bell’s telegraph message and Clara Barton’s first Red Cross meeting both can equate most of their success to an individual. Whereas now, these new modern events, Occupy D.C., and the inauguration protests did not happen because of the will of one person, but instead, by the power of masses fighting for a common goal.
Typically at the end of a paper a writer would end with a concluding statement that they would want the reader to take away from the paper. However, I want to leave the audience instead with this quote from a live streamer that goes by the name Ice Poseidon. “If you’re just like everyone else you’re going to be just as good as everyone else”. All of these individuals and groups that have I have mentioned throughout this paper all had different ideas and ways of expressing those ideas however they had one trait that made them memorable and worthy of writing about. They dared to be different. All found ways to make a mark my paper, on Franklin Square, on Washington D.C., and in history. Franklin Square is not what made these people, they made Franklin Square. Do not be afraid to take a step in a direction that might be different. Who knows, maybe I will be reading about you someday.
- “Franklin Square (Washington, D.C.).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Apr. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Square_(Washington,_D.C.). Accessed 3 May 2017.
- “Alexander Graham Bell.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Apr. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Graham_Bell. Accessed 3 May 2017.
- “You Can Make a Difference.” American Red Cross, Red Cross, www.redcross.org/. Accessed 3 May 2017.
- “Occupy D.C.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 May 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_D.C. Accessed 3 May 2017.
- Krieg, Gregory. “Police Injured, More than 200 Arrested at Trump Inauguration Protests.” CNN, Cable News Network, 21 Jan. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/01/19/politics/trump-inauguration-protests-womens-march/. Accessed 3 May 2017.
- Shanosky, Michael. (Personal Account), inauguration protests, 20 January 2017